Every dance studio is its own microcosmic universe. Much like an office, there’s politics, unwritten rules, bureaucracy, hierarchy, and cliques. Some dancers grow up with their teachers and peers, attending the same studio from childhood until their late teenage years. Here are some meaningful ways to do your part in taking care of your second home.
Tidy Up the Dance Studio
My little brother, who trained and competed with Vancouver hip hop crew Freshh, would sweep the floors every night after practice. He says this was his small way of repaying the studio for its investment in him. If you have a moment after class, wipe down the bathroom, throw out any leftover garbage, or clean the mirrors. Remember that this is your home too, and a few household chores every now and then will not go unappreciated.
Grow the Next Generation
Dance teachers are the lifeblood of the dance world. For some dancers, you may feel they even occupy a minor parental role in your upbringing. It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but my dance teachers taught me perseverance, respect, consistency, confidence, and teamwork. How cool and rewarding would it be to make that kind of difference in another young dancer’s life? Talk to your teachers and see if they’re interested in having an assistant or teaching understudy in class. Develop dance warm ups and across the floor progressions, aimed at teaching foundational technique and style. One day, those junior kids might follow.
Be a Leader
This is for dancers who are well acquainted with the internal mechanisms of their studio, and feel comfortable being a spokesperson when necessary. Talk to the parents of the younger dancers and hear out any concerns. Watch for segments in your routines that are not quite hitting right, and bring them up with your group. If you’re a junior dancer, or simply new to the studio, observe how the more senior dancers handle themselves in class and at competition, and work to find your place among them.
Get to (Paper)Work
As a senior dancer at your studio, you might have become aware of the heavy administrative work involved in running a dance school. Many of my teammates went on to handle elements of the admin tasks and completed items like competition registration, light scheduling, and costume orders. This is obviously not applicable at all studios, some being large businesses with an entire admin and accounting team. But if your studio is smaller scale and you’re interested, see if there’s opportunity to lend your brain to the numbers.
In the Crowd
When you can, come to competition even when you’re not competing yourself. Come to watch solos, duos, and trios, who might not have as large of a studio presence in the audience. On days where you compete in the morning, stay to help out the younger dancers with their routines. Get busy with some hairspray and blush in the dressing room, or lend a hand backstage. Dancers have busy lives, so don’t feel guilty if you aren’t able to be a frequent attendee at competition, but for those who are able to spare a day here and there, support your fellow teammates and show some studio pride.
If you’ve chosen your dance school well, then your studio is your home away from home. These gestures, big or small, make a difference in your studio’s ability to operate smoothly. Show up for your teachers, your peers, and the next generation of dancers who will follow you.